Japanese C-Store Sales Shake Off Doldrums

The bump after a 13-month stagnation comes as demand for food items increases.

April 23, 2021

FamilyMart Konbini

TOKYO—For the first time in more than a year, sales at Japanese convenience stores accelerated, rising 1.9% in March, Kyodo News reports. The lift comes as demand for food products jumped because of people still staying or working at home, according to the Japanese Franchise Association.

Same-store sales at seven major convenience retailers reached $7.9 billion, driven by strong demand for prepared and frozen food, sweets and alcohol, the Japan Franchise Association said. While the number of shoppers dropped 3.5% to 1.3 billion for the 13th month in a row, the average basket size per customer increased 5.6% to 684.20 yen or about US$6.33.

Average spending soared for the 18th consecutive month as consumers still stocked up on frozen meals in bulk, while liquor sales also rose because more people are drinking at home, according to the association. In the Tokyo metro area, in-store traffic declined due to a second state of emergency declaration from January through March 21. The number of convenience stores rose 0.2% from a year earlier, according to the association.

Japanese c-stores have also been working to offer more conveniences to their customers. In early April, FamilyMart began testing an unmanned checkout store in Tokyo. In addition, FamilyMart and Lawson took steps to reduce plastic waste in their stores, such as implementing the use of paper containers.

Consumer confidence in Japan is not the only country where it is on the upswing. In the United States, the number of consumers who are more ready to pursue normal activities is increasing, according to a Nielsen survey. “As Americans continue to navigate the pandemic, the future looks promising,” said Brad Kelly, managing director, Nielsen Audio.

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